Stuck in a Rut! Why switching to an RV GPS Unit is the Best Move for Fulltime Travelers.
We love enjoying the natural beauty of majestic mountains, towering trees, and gargantuan gorges while touring the country with our Travel Trailer. We don’t however, enjoy being stuck in these beautiful, but sometimes dangerous, places with limited mobility and no room to maneuver our rig due to unreliable directions from our GPS unit.
After a long day, full of driving you make the executive decision to keep driving for another 30minutes, until you reach your final destination, instead of following your gut and your travel plan of stopping before night fall. It’s almost 8pm, and the sky is darkening more and more each minute, while your relying on the trusted GPS to get you to your destination safely and in the shortest amount of time possible.
You see a sign showing your destination is just 8 miles up the road, but then your GPS says to make a right turn at the upcoming interaction. It’s never steered you wrong in the past, in fact it always gives you the best directions possible and as a result you’ve chosen to continue using this standard model instead of upgrading to the RV GPS unit. You make the right turn and continue for 4 miles, following the path, TOM has laid out for you. You continue to drive the route, when your co-pilot notices a sign up ahead that reads, “Right Lane Ends”- that’s weird because there’s only one right lane, and you’re driving in it.
Bad Turns To Terrible…
As the sign warned, the lane ended and you’re now on a one lane road that just turned from pavement to gravel to plain old dirt in like one-minute flat. As your anxiety level increases, you’re co-pilot and backseat passengers are beyond worried and have now begun to make frightening comments about being wedged in between the enormous rock face to your right, and the death drop of a river bank on your left. You’ve just managed to calm everyone down when you notice another sign up a head that reads, “5 Ton Limit”. As your tires come to a screeching halt, your day has just officially turned from good to bad and is teetering back and forth from being absolutely terrible, as you’re stuck starring at a makeshift bridge that will not officially hold the weight of your trailer and truck.
This example is a true story, and while it did not happen to my family, it did happen to another camper, I spoke with while camping in the Smokey Mountains. I met the man in the campground store, as he verbally attacked the campground staff- for not properly warning guests not to use their GPS units, when coming to their RV Park. While I did agree, that maybe a simple curtesy warning to simply use their directions or a map, would have been helpful, I didn’t agree that this incident was the fault of the staff.
Travelers who do not ask the appropriate questions, will not always receive the proper information. And since your safety is your responsibility, you should be diligent in being prepared with multiple sources of directions and a reliable RV GPS unit to start.
As I listened the rest of the man’s story, where he had to have his beloved wife exit the truck with a flashlight and walk him through reversing back down the mountain road, I felt horrible for them, and mostly for his poor wife, who was stuck out there walking for 2 hours in the dark, while trying to make sure her husband didn’t make the slightest wrong turn and fall off the cliff just 12 inches from the trucks tires, with her kids in tow.
Upgrading for Safety & Comfort
This story, as well as many other personal instances where Antwon and I have found ourselves stuck in spots we’d rather not be, made me evaluate the trust we put into our own GPS unit. We were still using our old GPS from many years prior to starting our RV adventures. Tom had never steered us in the wrong direction, and actually proved time and time again, to get us to our destination safely and in record time!
But shortly after our first road trip, we realized there was probably a reason most RVers were using an RV GPS unit. We had instances where we needed to turn around on steep hills, in someone’s driveway, and even getting to our overnight camping spot only to realize it was actually not a campground but a Boy Scout Camp. There was also a time when we drove through the parking lot of the Atlanta Airport, while following the GPS directions for avoiding the highway.
So many stories like these seemed to leave us searching amazon in the wee hours of the morning trying to find a good price on a unit. It wasn’t until we stumbled across one on the rack at Walmart we decided to go ahead and make the switch. It was the last one on the shelf, and had been marked down to make room for the newest edition coming out. We grabbed it up and headed to the checkout!
What we ended purchasing was a unit just like this one. It was exactly what we needed. We took the unit home and Antwon found himself tinkering with the settings and updating the map with his laptop, before actually placing it in the car for our next trip.
Some of the best RV GPS features were:
- The ability to choose your rig type and specifications: You can easily program it to the exact weight, length and height of your unit- which helps keeps you from going to low bridges and those that can’t hold your weight.
- Switching between car routes and RV routes. We love this feature. If we have the trailer hooked up, of course we want the RV friendly route and would love to avoid dirt roads. But if we’re just touring around the city we opt for the car mode- so we don’t have to avoid smaller roads that wouldn’t be comfortable with a RV in tow.
- Easy access to detailed information. With a push of one icon- you can easily see how high or low in elevation you are, what direction your headed, what amenities are coming up on the next exit and so much more. Without having to go through multiple screens I can easily help make decisions with less time spent searching for the information I need.
Switching to the RV GPS has been a great tool for our fulltime adventures. We’re no longer sitting on edge, hopping silently that TOM is showing us the right way or if we’ll need to find a spot to make a 3-point turn when the coast is clear. We rely heavily on our new unit to guide us safely to our destinations, but still travel with a book of maps just in case. Since our map skills aren’t the best, it definitely feels better knowing this GPS knows exactly what type of vehicle we’re in and where we should and shouldn’t be driving.
To everyone who hasn’t already made the switch to an RV specific GPS unit, I strongly suggest you do so- before you catch yourself, Stuck in a Rut!